Since 1978 I have been fortunate to sail wooden boats. In 2006 I set out to find a Drascombe Longboat Cruiser for single-handed expedition sailing. This is the continuing story of how it came to be, our adventures, notes on the maritime world and other things I don't want to forget...


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Colorless Markers

Wednesday May 8

Another still morning. I look down into clear blue water and then pan across a long ribbon of sand. Fifty yards or so away a small tent is set up. It's early but the two young inhabitants are alternately walking back and forth from the site to the inlet edge with fish they are pulling in one after another. Before long, small boats are anchoring nearby their spot to get in on the action.




We heat up Breakfast Skillet and have a cup of coffee with a dash of Irish. Determined to not run aground we start back to the entrance buoy and begin winding into the bight south toward anchored sailboats in the distance. Having read that there were channel changes after the somewhat recent hurricanes, I asked a fisherman if it was clear through to Core Banks. He affirmed and we pressed on.

Motored until turning north by the lighthouse then caught the ESE breeze that was picking up. Moved into Core Sound and saw that all the charted markers on the seaward side were bare except for a black and white sign stating Danger Shoaling. The reds and greens had been removed. We were making good way and keeping well to port just in case. Broad reach and close-hauled the entire sound. Intense sun encouraged us to cover up, towels coming in handy.


Cape Lookout Light



Core Sound










By 1500 we had passed the fishing village of Atlantic and decided to abort a previous idea to continue NNE to Ocracoke. It would be dark by the time we would make our approach and that seemed risky. Instead we ran up into Thorofare Bay and the canals by Cedar Island. The SE wind funneled up the route and only needed to motor through the short Old Canal. Anchored far up Broad Creek at 1900 and enjoyed a beautiful night.


Along Old Canal



Time out

Day total  42 NM, 48 SM



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

South to the Ocean

Tuesday May 7

Woke in a still creek. After oatmeal and coffee we motored out under the bridge and into the Neuse River heading south. Picked up a slight breeze from the north and slowly tacked off the wind toward Adams Creek and the cut beyond. This route is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. The northerly held and we sailed, mostly wing and wing the entire way to Beaufort.

Wake up call

It was a sunny day and the temp climbed, encouraging Noah to take a swim. I threw a line over but as he was towed Annie all but stopped. So Noah had a good swim abeam as we slipped along. The run was nice and uneventful... most of the big yachts slowing as we sailed past.





The ditch opened into Core Creek and then the Newport River before going under the new bridge into Beaufort. When we arrived we tied up at the courtesy dock, refilled a water jug and went through the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Returning to the boat I checked the tides and noticed that it would be slack in the inlet in 30 minutes, 1545. It was still early afternoon so we decided to head for Point Lookout.

The wind had clocked around and was 15 kt ESE with 20 gusts. Once we had made #10 sea buoy double-reefed, we started tacking close hauled into the wind. Seas were running 4-5 feet with easy intervals. After a couple of short tacks east I reckoned that if we were going to make the inlet inside Cape Lookout we needed to tack out far. The first took us offshore 5.5 miles and on the return tack to Shackleford Banks we were half way to our easterly goal. The next set took us to the entrance marker as the sun set at 1945.

Shrimper










After running aground inside and pulling off we anchored close behind a fresh spit that had formed near the entrance. Ate and slept well.


Calm behind the spit


Day total 40.9 nm, 47 sm



Friday, May 17, 2019

First Day on the Water

Monday May 6

Up and out North Creek at 0700. Continued out Pamlico River on beam reach with wind north, 10kt. Cleared river into Pamlico Sound as wind increased to 15 kt. Tracked SE on broad reach to skirt bombing range. About 9 miles away from land we started south running double reefed in a 3' chop with many white caps... I reckoned Force 5. Yawing and surfing.

Passed by Bay River as the wind tapered down. Ran downwind wing and wing with poles set. Noah a bit seasick due to yawing. Continued south into Neuse River and docked at Oriental at 1900. Went onshore for tea and then anchored up Greens Creek for the night.

Day total 46.5 NMiles, 53.5 SMiles



SE into Pamlico Sound



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Slight Wrinkle

Sunday May 5

I picked up Noah at 0830 and we headed to Urbanna to get Annie. Hitched up we headed south over the York River and then the James. Just as we were entering North Carolina I noticed the trailer vibrating. I pulled into a dirt parking area next to an abandoned Ruritan Club to inspect. The port side wheel bearing had given up and the hub was smoking. My first thought was that the trip might be over. But we took the jack from the 4Runner and with cement blocks found by the building we were able to get the wheel off and then the hub. The spindle was undamaged and we hastily bagged up the parts and drove back north to an automotive store that was still open for an hour or so.

As we got closer we saw another closer store. Skeptically I asked if they had any parts and the man turned toward the shelves and set down the whole hub assembly, packed with grease. It even had new lug nuts. Noah grabbed a grease gun and a cartridge and we started back south. I was feeling a lot better.

Everything went smoothly and we were back on the road with only two hours lost. Luck was on our side.







We reached Potter's Marine at 1730 and after launching we went to Bath for a meal. On our return we barely got the cockpit tent up when a downpour set in. By the time it abated it was dark so we stayed overnight at the dock.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Switch Off

Returned to Richmond on Sunday after a rippin' trip through the North Carolina Inner Banks with Noah. As we were coming in, Steve, a great friend and the skipper of Spartina, pulled in to launch. He is currently beating his way into Oriental harbor. Check him out at the Log of Spartina.

I will be reporting on our trip in a few days...



Friday, April 26, 2019

Mobjack and a Repair

My nephew Noah and I sailed the Mobjack last week. Put in at Mathews town ramp 1100 Wednesday April 17 and motor sailed down the East River. We reached east on a N wind and got behind New Point Comfort Light for a few photos and then beat over to the beach attempting to go ashore. The tide was low and after bottoming out 50 yards off we turned and ran back across the bay south. I set up poles and we continued wing and wing toward the Severn River. By 1630 it seemed prudent to start for an anchorage and we chose the North River. With the wind on the beam Annie was giving her all. With two foot waves on the quarter and a decent wavelength she was making 6.5-7 knots over the bottom as the tide started in.


Noah at the helm


Crossing the bay again we worked up the North past Mobjack Bay Marina and found a quiet cove that I had anchored in a couple years ago. Noah got a sculling lesson, we cooked up the 'old go to' beef stroganoff, played a couple hands of rummy with a bottle passed, and turned in... me in my down below warren and Noah in the cockpit under Annie's tent. Great sailing day.

We headed back down river the next morning with less wind and a number of leisurely tacks. It gave us time to tell stories and to help him with sailing terminology and more about how the boat works. He was at the tiller a lot, we ran aground a couple times and I believe the bug started taking hold. As we broad reached back up the East River to haul out, we decided he would go on the upcoming North Carolina trip in May. I think it will be fun.


Today I drove to Urbanna to check on Annie and replace the centerplate line. The line is made off on a drum that is keyed to an axle that is wrapped with webbing attached to the head of the plate. It went pretty smooth after I got the top of the trunk off. The line had worn thin and the cam cleat, that is mounted on the cockpit coaming, wasn't able to hold it from slipping. I'm feeling better about it now and looking forward to the upcoming spring trip.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Upcoming

Spring is here with trees leafing, flowers popping out, pollen coating everything and warm gusty breezes blowing. A North Carolina Outer Banks trip in early May is being planned and nephew Noah is hankering for a overnight... his first. This Wednesday is looking good work and weather wise. I am thinking that trailering Annie down to the Mobjack and exploring the rivers again would be just the ticket.
Gave Noah a second hand copy of the Complete Sailor last week. Hope he is digging in and finding it as exciting to get the first tastes of sailing as I did when I was his age.






Tuesday, April 2, 2019

First Overnight of the Season

Annie is back in shape after a winter at John and Vera's. She looked good uncovered as we pulled up to Urbanna Town Marina to launch. Had to wait a bit for the tide to rise but once overboard and tied up I gave the outboard a couple of tugs and we were off  into Urbanna Harbor, around the cut and into the Rappahannock for a nice afternoon sail. That night I anchored and had a cold 'two-sleeping bag' night. Next day I picked up nephew Noah for another nice sail over to Corratoman Creek and on to Rappahannock Yachts near Irvington to walk the yard. Noah is real interested in sailing and I'm glad to be sharing.

Old Trusty




Noah bringing us in




A couple days ago a friend brought over Wooden Boat magazines. Forty years of them, back to the first issue in 1974. I didn't start reading them until '77 but learned a lot especially from Bud McIntosh and others who illustrated boatbuilding or how to care for a boat. There seemed to be more of that type of article way back, and less commercialism. Now.. what to do with them. Maybe some clipping is in order.


Number 1


Friday, February 8, 2019

Hard Work

This past week has been a tough one for Virginia. With the racial revelations and a sexual abuse allegation in top government, it has been a lot to take in.

My friend and fellow sailor Steve Earley has been there to record this history. As a senior photographer for the Virginia Pilot he was on the front line all this week. I commend him for his work.


Steve with his camera, left center. Photo: New York Times

Done and Up

Friday, January 4, 2019

Two Years

I  just found this unpublished post I wrote in late November. Oh well...


Eleanor and I returned after a week on Jekyll Island, Georgia. It has been my home away from home. But this past weekend brought that to a close.

The Wanderer Memory Trail opening was a success. I guess I sweated it enough to make it so. Dignitaries from Washington, Atlanta and Charleston were in attendance. The Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters performed and introduced the story of 409 Africans that were subjected -against their will- an horrid, illegal, lethal voyage to become the penultimate group of survivors of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade to reach the shores of the American South and the last in Georgia. I had taken on this project with limited support and as the time drug on I made new friends, learned much about African American interpretation challenges, was overwhelmed at times by cultural appropriation and white supremacy. From a conceptual plan and formative evaluation to script writing, CADD drawings, long days fabricating each component, overseeing the setting of poles at dawn, getting help from old and new friends... it was a project to remember.





























































Opening Day



Dr. Deborah Mack with descendants of original survivor


Read more here